If you’re experiencing yourself
as a lonely individual right now
don’t read this whole thing yet. First
go outside, touch a tree
talk with an old person and a child and a bird
eat something made for you by another
move, rest, repeat
until you feel community in your hands and feet and belly again.
Which means you’ll take only what you need from here
and leave the rest of it alone for another wanderer who may need it.

(Got it? Great. Ok, I think we’re ready.)

Welcome friend, how are you today?
Here is my whole resume. I learned that grief is a sanctuary
from my Mom Linda
whose presence has held me through every tear I’ve shed on this earth
& who has lived with Alzheimer’s disease
since she was 55. She’s turning 77 next month & officially becoming a medical marvel.

At mid stage I wrote a lot of poetry about her, and us
as the disease quietly shredded us, ripping us open, scattering our friends to the wind. And loudly exploding
our extended family apart. I became shrapnel—more open & scattered than I ever volunteered to be. Embedded in others. Bloody. Ten years ago I wrote this:

               I break my heart each morning
               so there is room for her

               her memory and story
               her history inside of me

               disease that slowly separates
               her away from her

               beyond disease
               a slow release
               of precious self to daughters.

               we break ourselves each morning
               let our hearts be wounds
               now find those hearts
               a gentle gauze
               wound around the world.

Yes, that was my whole resume
so that when I say grief is a sanctuary
I can trust that I actually know something real
though my culture taught me not to trust myself and also my ears are white—
apparently the smallest ears for listening
in the entire animal kingdom of earth.
And so you’ll know that I am a gentle being, from a long line of gentle beings,
who can also feel like shrapnel across and into human flesh.

Grief creates silence, full presence & living beings who can crumble and re-form fluidly

Grief invites tenderness, vulnerability, space, time
first within me, then in the full view of, and finally in the full presence of
my worst enemies.

  • Have you cried with someone who terrifies you?
  • Have you been comforted by hands
    stained with the blood of your people and being?
  • Have you stood at the river now terrified because you have no enemies left?
    No voices but your own to contend with. Who, then, is left to blame?

Grief connects me with moss & soil
rivers, oceans, bones, darkness, stars, ash, and women. So. Many. Many. Women.

Grief brings forth—

visions and intuitions

  • Have you seen the sky crack open to hold all the grief
  • when you just couldn’t hold it all anymore?
  • Heard trees tell jokes? Received better counseling from a stray dog than every PhD you know? (sorry friends)


  • Have you dropped to your knees crying feeling the caged & hidden pain of a passing stranger?
  • Gladly waited to hear a more-whole story?
  • Hidden among trees when people are too much?

guilt-free, shame-free, truly free laughter

  • Have you witnessed people laughing together at the threshold of death?
  • In her presence? Seen surprise in eyes that thought they’d only ever want to cry?
  • Laughed with a woman who cannot laugh out loud anymore? Felt it from within?

complete peace and rage with what is

  • Have others been deeply happy that they are not you?
  • Have others called you fearless? Been wrong? Seen far more than you could see?
    Have you witnessed the genocide of friends? Funded by the guy you thought was the good guy?

wise and playful elders, of all ages, everywhere

  • Have you followed the 9-year-old Palestinian girl who is a genocide press correspondent in Gaza? Her name is Lama Jamous. Be careful. In an instant she can teach you everything you could ever want to know about how fearless you are.
  • Are you ready? Are we ever?

humility, unlearning, change

  • Grief welcomes everyone, without trying.
  • I can’t welcome everyone. I’ve tried. I’m so fucking done.
  • The best I can do is hold you close for a moment and wish you well, in love, as we part company.


               I wrote this 10 years ago too:

                              respite is not a thing we are given
                              respite is who we are right now
                              bowing to the moment together

                              respite is who we’re becoming
                              allowing our true selves to be                   

That me was becoming respite for myself and my family—at least the ones who remained. Hello me.
And this is us becoming sanctuary now…

We’re holding far more grief than we were holding back then.
Have you noticed how the sky herself helps all of us now? The soil? Or how soft the moss is?
Seen kites rising everywhere as bombs fall and the barbed wire spreads?
Felt the lack of refuge or respite for you and the other refugees among all powerful men?
Carried all your worldly possessions in a frail plastic bag and dared to dream the same dreams as those who are currently starving?

We have. We have. You are here with us now, and in this place, we are held only by that. Just by where we are, who we’re with, and what we’re feeling together. Undone. Between selves again. Angry. Frightened. Older. Full of laughter. A brand-new being.

We are sanctuary.
We are sanctuary.
We are every moment unwelcome feels welcome. Every space between. Every place held together by the falling apart. Every old and new language emerging, a voice shaking off old violences. Sanctuary is where carnivals and other new traditions come to be born. We are a place, not a person, most days. And maybe we are a person some days too. How the hell am I supposed to know? I’m new here too. And no one here is fully ready for what we have to do next together. No one. And we never will be. Here we know that and we own that. Only that. We. Can be, and do, that!

Wow. How cool is that?! I mean this. I mean. How remarkably wonderful are we?!!